Two Lakewood Democrats say they’re likely to run next year for the 7th Congressional District seat represented by U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter if the six-term incumbent Democrat jumps in the race for governor.
State Rep. Brittany Pettersen told The Colorado Statesman this week that she will run for the suburban congressional seat if Perlmutter seeks the gubernatorial nomination in 2018, and state Sen. Andy Kerr told The Statesman he’s “very seriously looking at it.”
The two legislators share many of the same constituents — Kerr held Pettersen’s House District 28 seat for three terms before winning an open seat in the upper chamber in 2012 — and both say their ability to win in their own swing districts means they’d be contenders for Perlmutter’s suburban swing seat.
Perlmutter’s campaign manager, Clinton Thomas, told The Statesman that his boss hasn’t decided what he’ll do next year, when Gov. John Hickenlooper is term-limited.
“Ed is considering all his options including a gubernatorial run and is taking into account a wide variety of factors as part of his decision-making process,” Thomas said.
Perlmutter has won election by double-digit margins every time he’s run for election in the congressional district, which includes parts of Jefferson and Adams counties. Cities within the district include Lakewood, Wheat Ridge, Arvada and Westminster. Democrats make up 34.6 percent of active registered voters in the district, well ahead of the 26.5 percent registered Republicans but trailing the 36.9 percent who are unaffiliated, according to the most recent figures available from the Colorado secretary of state.
“We of course have to see what happens, if Ed does actually run for governor,” Kerr said. “But if he does, I’m very seriously looking at it.”
“I am going to run for Ed Perlmutter’s seat if he runs for governor,” Pettersen said.
“I think Ed wants to run for governor, but we’ll see ultimately what decisions are made,” she added. “Ken Salazar’s decision is going to play into everyone’s decision.”
Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is a potential candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor, and Democrats say his decision could influence who else gets in the race.
A Democratic close to Perlmutter said the congressman is likely to announce his decision by the end of the month.
Kerr said he’s been contemplating a run for Congress.
“I’ve talked to some people,” he said. “Ed has done a fantastic job representing a swing seat in Congress, and I’ve been representing swing seats in the Colorado Legislature. We’ve worked together on a number of things, and it’s definitely something that I’ll look into doing.”
Pettersen said she thinks Perlmutter would make a great governor and added that there’s a place in Congress for a representative like herself.
“I understand the struggles people go through every day,” she said. “We need more people in Congress who understand what people go through.”
Former U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez represented the newly created 7th Congressional District for two terms early in the last decade but vacated it in 2006 for the first of his two unsuccessful runs for governor. Perlmutter has held the seat since.
Two Democrats — businessman Noel Ginsburg and former state Sen. Mike Johnston, D-Denver — have announced they’re in the running for the gubernatorial nomination. Other potential Democratic candidates include former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy, state Sen. Mike Merrifield, D-Colorado Springs, state Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, and state Rep. Steve Lebsock, D-Thornton.
Former state Rep. Victor Mitchell, R-Castle Rock, and political newcomer JoAnne Silva are the two Republicans in the race so far. The GOP contest could get crowded quickly, with potential candidates including State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, District Attorney George Brauchler, businessman and former U.S. Senate candidate Jack Graham, state Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton, state Sen. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, and businessman Kent Thiry.